Thursday, 8 January 2015

Blanchette, London

We planned a last minute New Years trip to the capital and after a frantic search for somewhere  to dine that wasn’t charging an arm and a leg for a ‘special’ menu, we finally settled on Blanchette in Soho. A cosy bistro serving French small plates and not a set menu in sight which was welcome, at short notice we managed to bag ourselves a table for four for an early dinner before heading off to find a good location to see the fireworks. 

Typical of most Soho restaurants where space is at a premium, the dining room is long and narrow with bar seats offered along the bar area. Blanchette was established by three brothers, Maxime, Yannis and Malik Alary and also draw on consultancy from another small plate London favourite, the Salt Yard Group who run Opera Tavern and Ember Yard amongst others.

The small plate concept encourages dishes to be shared, which in our opinion is more interactive along with the added benefit of being able to try more dishes! The menu is split between snacks, starters, charcuterie, fish, meat and veg. Dishes range from £5 - £10 and are worth it for the quality. We ordered a whole host of dishes to share including:
Crispy frog legs with bois boudran sauce
From the charcuterie section we tried truffle saucisson from Rhone
Octopus with burnt clementine, fennel and pistachio
Hot smoked salmon with beetroot, quail eggs, potato crêpe and truffle butter
Daube of pig cheeks with dauphinoise croquette
Braised lamb shoulder with anchovy, rosemary and soubise sauce
Confit duck leg with butternut squash purée, hazelnuts, chilli and star anise
Tournedo Rossini with foie gras en croute, shaved truffle and madeira sauce (a NYE special)
Roasted beetroot with pickled girolles, fleur de marquis and tarragon dressing
Brillat-Savarin salad with pear, red endive, honey and poppyseed
Hot chocolate fondant with salted caramel ice cream
Passion fruit vacherin

The favourite dishes of the night were the frogs legs, pigs cheek, salmon and salad dish, the desserts also hit the spot as well with the passion fruit vacherin being perfect foil for the sweet gooey chocolate fondant. 

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Monday, 5 January 2015

The Pudding Bar, London

The Pudding Bar was a dessert pop up bar serving afternoon tea and desserts in the evening. It was located on Greek Street and was a great idea and hopefully the guys behind it will pop up again or find a permanent fixture soon.
We visited for dessert after dinner one night and our eyes were bigger than our bellies again as we opted for three desserts to share and one glass of each of the four available dessert wines. Each of the desserts were quite large and priced very reasonably at £6-7.
Blackberry panna cotta with honeycomb, blackberries and spiced rum & nutmeg ice cream.
Apple and maple syrup baked Alaska, cinnamon spiced apple cake with maple syrup ice cream, wrapped in Italian meringue with maple glaze.
S’more cheesecake, milk chocolate cheesecake on a ginger nut biscuit base with peanut butter ice cream.
Dessert wines from right to left, Maury Grenat, Finca Le Estacada Secua Chardonnay Dulce, Royal Tokaiji Lake harvest and Chateau du Levant Sauternes.

Each of the desserts was made with skill and the baked Alaska was the unanimous favourite with the apple and maple combination edging out the peanut butter ice cream and chocolate cheesecake.

Pudding Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, 2 January 2015

Rex & Mariano, London

Rex & Mariano is the latest venture from the Goodman restaurant group who are also behind the Burger & Lobster mini chain. A seafood restaurant where orders are placed using Ipads sees it only charging 5% for service, a rarity in London where 12.5% and even 13% in places have become standard.

The restaurant is spacious with an open kitchen where diners can observe the dishes being prepared and leaving the pass. The menu contains a selection of raw and cooked seafood with a few vegetable sides also available. Service is rapid with dishes reaching the table within minutes of ordering with the Ipad, therefore ordered a few dishes at a time to enjoy a more leisurely paced meal.
Rock and native oysters with lemon and vinaigrette
Tuna tartare, avocado, chilli, chive, sesame. Nice big diced chunks of tuna livened up by the chilli.
Salmon tartare, parsley, shallot, smoked tomato.
Lobster ceviche, coriander, fennel, yuzu, orange.
Gambero rosso prawns, lemon, olive oil, salt. Red prawns served raw with a cooked version also available. Very enjoyable due to the freshness of the prawns.
Fritto Misto, mixed fried seafood including squid, prawns, whitebait, whitefish with alioli.
Fish of the day, whole grilled lemon sole with a light dusting of flour. Reminds me of how my mum cooks sole.
We enjoyed Rex & Mariano very much with the star dishes being the raw prawns and tartare dishes. A good choice for seafood lovers with reasonable prices and friendly service.

Rex & Mariano on Urbanspoon

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